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If there’s one thing Canada does well, it’s outdoor attractions. Even in the cities you won’t struggle to find pockets of nature here and there. Take Vancouver for example, which is one of the country’s most scenic cities thanks to the surrounding forest, sea and mountain landscapes. Nestled within the urban sprawl is the magnificent green jewel of Stanley Park. Just steps from the bustling streets of downtown, this natural playground attracts millions of visitors every year with its beautiful scenery and exciting outdoor activities.
Almost entirely surrounded by the glittering waters of Vancouver Harbour and English Bay, with a forested interior and views of the North Shore Mountains, it’s easy to forget that you’re in a city when exploring Stanley Park. Unlike most urban parks, it has a beautifully untamed and slightly mystical look and feel with its ancient forests, lily-pad lakes and wild flora. The park is one of the oldest areas in Vancouver and was once inhabited by indigenous people before British Columbia was colonised by the British. Today, it’s a Canadian National Historic Site and a popular hangout for both locals and visitors. The endless stretches of forests, beaches and lakes are ripe for exploration, while the historical monuments, landmarks and cultural attractions make for convenient stop-off points. But the most popular attraction has got to be the iconic seawall trail which winds around the park offering fantastic forest, sea and mountain vistas.
Ask any locals and they’ll tell you that you can’t visit Vancouver without going to Stanley Park. Whether you spend just a few hours or a whole day here, trust us when we say that you won’t be forgetting this place in a hurry.
Of course, the main selling point of Stanley Park is the gorgeous scenery. Spend some time soaking up the sights by walking around the beautiful flower gardens, following the winding trails through the forests ir exploring some of the best beaches in Vancouver. During your adventures, take the time to admire the unique flora and fauna. The park is known for its variety of trees and abundance of wildlife including bald eagles, beavers, coyotes, seals, squirrels, racoons and one of the largest urban colonies of great blue herons in Canada. For some of the best wildlife-watching spots, head to the Lost Lagoon and Beaver Lake.
If it’s sweeping views you’re after, don’t miss the chance to walk, cycle or skate along the 9km seawall trail. This popular pathway has some of the best views of the sea and mountains in the city, so make sure you have your camera ready. You can also spot some famous landmarks along the way, including Siwash Rock and Lion’s Gate Bridge. Oh, and make sure you stick to the marked sections for walkers and cyclists to avoid any embarrassing collisions!
Aside from the scenery, Stanley Park is hub for cultural attractions. Beautifully-carved totem poles and various sculptures can be seen at Brockton Point, as well as a historic lighthouse which makes for a fantastic photo op. You’ll probably come across some of the park’s residents artists painting landscapes and portraits at some point, too.
One of the most visited sights in Stanley Park is Vancouver Aquarium. This is Canada’s largest aquarium and is home to more than 70,000 creatures, including dolphins, sea lions, harbour seals, sea otters and countless species of fish. The centre is widely respected for its marine research, and you can learn about the area’s fascinating sea life with numerous exhibits and interactive programmes.
Stanley Park is located on a peninsula, just a few minutes’ walk from downtown in Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood. There are numerous buses and public transport that can take you to the park, or you can access it on foot or bike from the seawall trail.
The park is open for 24 hours a day, so you can come and go as you please.
Entrance to the park is free.
Vancouver’s weather is warm during the summer months, but it’s always a good idea to pack extra layers when spending time outdoors, especially in the evening. Paths in Stanley Park are well-maintained, so you can probably leave your hiking boots at home this time.
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